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CREA AND TECHNOLOGY

I just returned from a Franchisors meeting with the Senior CREA Leadership Team in Toronto. We had very good discussions about the Futures Project, the Data Distribution Facility (DDF), Federal Affairs, MLS® Home Price Index, the CREA Stats Boutique and the REALTORs® Care Foundation.

Generally the discussion was cordial with a fair amount of agreement on the topics, except for one thing, the future of realtor.ca! From my perspective, there is no question that realtor.ca and the precursor, mls.ca, served a critical role in our technological development in the Canadian real estate industry. Today it may be a different situation; it seems to me one of the biggest issues the Competition Bureau has with organized real estate is realtor.ca and the closed environment around it.

In response to the rapidly changing brokerage environment, CREA initiated the Futures Project. This is a tremendous initiative that CREA should receive full accolades for. There has been a tremendous amount of work, effort and time go into this at all levels of membership. Certainly the upcoming AGM in Ottawa will be ground breaking as the entire project is discussed and decisions are made on our Industry’s future.

One of the ideas to be discussed will be for CREA to look at developing a business model around spinning off realtor.ca to a third party to manage. The reasoning being to provide better management and control over the product and develop a better customer/consumer experience. It could even be developed to accept FSBOs and become the ultimate web site for consumer search for real estate.

This was the one idea all the Franchisors had an issue with; never ever even contemplate such a move. If this is a way to please the Competition Bureau, then shut realtor.ca down completely. Never allow FSBOs any opportunity to advertise their own home on a REALTOR® site. Further, why have an Industry site that is really competing with our own consumer listing search sites?

From our RE/MAX perspective we have worked very hard with a tremendous investment to develop a listing site that has become very successful. We will continue to develop remax.ca and Leadstreet to be the best tool for both consumers and sales associates. Many would agree that today, realtor.ca only exists to level the playing field and take away the competitive advantage we have. And today, I would believe that.

I believe the Data Distribution Facility will be a great resource and tool for all REALTORS® to use and take advantage of to display listing information on an individual licensee basis, on a brokerage site, on regional or national Franchisor sites. I no longer believe that Canadian organized real estate needs a consumer oriented web site to search for property. Through IDX data sharing agreements and Broker Reciprocity any single entity or organization has the ability today to display all the mls home listings available in those particular markets. This then leaves it up to the Franchise organization, the brokerage or the individual to develop and compete for their share of the market. And most importantly, allow each of us to truly compete and win in attracting the greatest amount of business.

The upcoming AGM in Ottawa, March 24th and 25th, will be one of the most important ever. Take the time to review the entire Futures Project. It really is a well executed document with some very valuable insights as to where our industry needs to go. Make sure your Real Estate Board of Directors is aware of your thoughts and concerns before they head to Ottawa to express them for you.

I look forward to hearing from you on this topic.

Elton Ash ABR CRES
Regional Executive Vice President

RE/MAX of Western Canada (1998), LLC

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